On Wednesday night, Colgate students, faculty and staff joined together with the Oneida County Victims of Violence staff for the annual “Take Back the Night” rally.
Participants carried colorful signs with messages such as “1 in 4,” “No Means No” and “There is Hope and Healing Beyond Abuse,” marching from the clock outside of Curtis Hall to the African, Latin, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center, making stops on the steps of Memorial Chapel, outside of the Women’s Studies Center and in front of the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) along the way.
Marchers chanted, “Fight for your right; take back the night,” “No more silence, no more violence” and, at the suggestion of Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and Women’s Studies Meika Loe, “Sexual assault is real at Colgate.”
“I mean, that’s the take-home message, right?” Loe said.
On the Chapel steps, senior co-organizers Emily Renda and Allyson Dean handed out statistics about domestic violence and sexual assault that were read aloud by participants.
Outside of the Women’s Studies Center, junior Kia King read a monologue about acquaintance rape from Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf.” Passers-by not involved with the march stopped to listen.
Community Educator for Oneida County Victims of Violence Joanne Smith read statistics about the domestic violence program and its 24-hour hotline outside of the Coop. In the last year, the group has received 734 calls on the hotline and opened 288 adult files and 81 children’s files.
“These numbers seem big,” Smith said, “But they only tell us a small story of what is going on in our county.”
Once at the ALANA Cultural Center, the marchers engaged in a confidential speak-out, intended to provide a forum for healing discussion about issues of sexual violence.
“Take Back the Night” began in the late 1970s as a series of marches in the United Kingdom protesting the dangers that women face when they walk alone at night. The first “Take Back the Night” rally in the United States took place in San Francisco in 1978.
Over the years, especially at Colgate, the rallies have also become a protest against violence in relationships, whether committed by men or women. Protesters illustrated this by drawing a male and female symbol on a sign that said “End Violence.”
This year’s march was co-sponsored by the Sexual Consultation and Resource Center (SCRC), the Domestic Violence Awareness Coalition (DVAC) and the Women’s Studies Department.
The SCRC and the DVAC, according to Assistant Director of the Center for Outreach and Volunteer Education Betsy Busche, are not as strong as they once were.
Renda agreed, saying that the organizations’ low membership reflects a problem in the attitude of the Colgate community.
“I feel like, at this moment in time, people on this campus don’t think this is really a hot topic,” Renda said.
“Take Back the Night” came to Colgate when Dean transferred here and collaborated with former Women’s Studies Program Assistant Diane Williams and the rest of the Women’s Studies department to organize a rally.